“You know, I’ve always been a dreamer…”
These lyrics have forever resonated with my soul.
I have dreamed more than I have done and I have done more than I dared dream…and still, I dream of more. While others my age and in my station in life are setting the cruise control and coasting into the comforts earned through years of investment of time, effort, and resources, I still dream of that next adventure, that next encounter… I dream that it will be like none before it and none after because there is a dynamic unique to every relationship. It can be imitated, but not emulated. It is as unique as the people who comprise it.
In the past four years, I have journeyed at breakneck speed from one workplace relationship to the next. After ten years on the road as an independent adjuster and then manager in the insurance claims business, I accepted an offer to join Progress Residential, a major mover in the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) business. I was overseeing the rehabs of newly purchased single-family rentals and the make-ready of turnover homes. In a few months, I was promoted to maintenance manager. During my tenure at Progress, I met Kathleen Jackson and formed a strong work relationship with this dynamic woman who balanced her passion for Christian ministry and her professional career.
There is a dynamic unique to every relationship. It can be imitated, but not emulated. It is as unique as the people who comprise it.
Kathleen moved on to Tricon American Homes. Shortly thereafter, she contacted me. Tricon was looking for someone to manage and make sense of the construction and maintenance of their ever-expanding Texas portfolio. I interviewed with Executive Vice President Alan O’Brien and interim Director of the western states Chris Mamola. It was a fantastic interview and a seminal moment in my professional life.
O’Brien would prove to be one of the most influential people in my life in terms of learning how to grow and manage a dynamic operation in a business that was quickly transitioning from an entrepreneurial endeavor to a corporate environment. His innovation, eye for detail, strong leadership, and ability to maintain that delicate balance between accountability and investment in those he managed was more than a breath of fresh air – it was an education.
I have dreamed more than I have done and I have done more than I dared dream…and still, I dream of more.
The president of Tricon is Kevin Baldridge. Prior to taking the helm at Tricon, Kevin guided the growth of one of America’s most impressive and dynamic multi-family endeavors, Irvine Company Apartment Communities. The opportunity to form a relationship with this humble Oxford-educated leader and witness his work was (I believe) the equivalent of a crash course MBA program. Kevin focused on people. He believed proper investment in the people inside the organization and in our customers would result in growth, a stable, healthy work environment, and profitability. He refused to call those to whom we rented “tenants.” He called them “residents.” He ascribed dignity and worth to the people who were the lifeblood of our business. Moreover, Kevin masterfully built out the infrastructure of Tricon, bringing on one dynamic leader after another to add value to each of the vital departments.
Tricon was a great time of personal and professional growth for me.
Then came Harvey. And Irma. These back-to-back 2017 hurricanes blasted southeast Texas and Florida…and my phone rang. I ignored every call but one.
This whirlwind four-year ride began in 2014 with me as a manager with Mid-America Catastrophe Services. Zack Meadows and Stacy Story, two of my best friends in the adjuster business and great men, came calling. In 2014, when their ownership of the company was fresh and the business small, I was there. But at the time they could not afford and did not really need me. They were busy building a clientele and a reputation. Their efforts were sacrificial. They poured everything they had and everything they were into building their business. It paid off and my phone rang.
It was actually Zack and his brother-in-law Keith Craft, one of my best friends on the planet, who first called.
“Gene,” Keith said, “It’s time. You ready?”
I wasn’t sure I was ready. I was ready for the challenge. I was ready to work with my friends. I was ready for another adventure. But was I ready to part so soon with Tricon? This required thought. And prayer.
I thought. I prayed. I said yes. As happy as I had been at Tricon, here was an opportunity to work directly with and for friends…an opportunity to take the things I learned these four years and assist my friends in building out the infrastructure of their fast-growing business.
You know, I’ve always been a dreamer. Still am. How about you?
“So, put me on a highway and show me a sign…”
A sign that you, too, are still dreaming, still doing, still hoping, still pursuing…
“And take it to the limit one more time.”